Progress Report

Nobody says “Life begins at 50.”  Maybe they will someday, but they don’t do it yet.  The understanding is that when you reach the half-century mark, you are supposed to have something to show for it.  You don’t have to be rich or famous, but you should have accomplished at least something along the way.  You could have raised a family, built up a business, or gotten a letter to Penthousepublished.  Pretty much anything will do,

I’m going to be hitting that particular milestone in August and I have had a few “What the fuck have I done with my life?” panic attacks as I close in on 50.  For those who are younger than me, let me explain.  These are very much like the “What the fuck am I doing with my life?” you experience as you approach your 40th birthday or the “What the fuck am I going to do with my life?” as you approach your 30th.  In short, they suck.

I think what makes them so bad is that you can’t just dismiss them out of hand.  No matter who you are and what sort of life you’ve led, there’s going to be some sliver of truth to them.  We as a species just aren’t all that perfect.  Fortunately, the converse is also true.  You may be a failure, but you’re not a complete failure.

Most of us are somewhere in between and when our inner voice tells us we suck, there is plenty of ammo for both sides of that argument.  It’s a completely pointless way to spend your energy and for those of you who have the mental fortitude to put that nonsense out of your mind, I admire and applaud you.  For the rest of us, read on.

There are some well-meaning souls out there who suggest that our trouble is that we are mired in our own little worlds, that we need to take a step back and take a look at the big picture. Looking at the big picture has taught me one thing.  The bigger the picture I’m looking at, the less I matter. So no, that isn’t going to help me at all.
Instead, I’ve been concentrating on very selfish pursuits.  My current one is a story I’m writing.  I’m under no illusion that it’s going to be great literature or even be publishable. In fact, the only people I expect to read it are my friends and anyone else who chances upon it.  So why bother? Well, it interests me.  I could have hastily dashed it out like a lot of my other efforts, but I decided to slow down with this one.  I tinker with it a little each day and progress, while slow, is happening.  When I’m finished, it will be time well spent.
People around me may not much give a shit. I’m OK with that. I may not have had any effect on my entry on life’s great scoreboard. I’m OK with that too.  I can marvel over the speck of dust I’ve created among the vastness and take comfort in the fact that denial can sometimes be a beautiful thing.